This Datsun 240Z Has Been Tuned With Tasteful Attitude
Photography by Andrew Golseth
While some rejoice their car’s all original and unmodified state, others choose to dismiss the “factory is flawless” mentality in hopes to build their ideal sportscar. As much as the Internet attempts to declare otherwise, there’s no right or wrong way to modify a car. There are no guidelines or predetermined set of rules or limitations dictating a creator’s vision—though, most of us can agree some customs are done in a more tasteful fashion than others.
San Diego native Daniel Goodman is one such gearhead that prefers to tinker with his cars rather than preserve their original presentation—and this 1973 Datsun 240Z is his current quest for balance between old school looks and feel with modern performance. With such a huge Fairlady following and aftermarket support, it’d be easy to go overkill with a full-on resto-mod but the goal here was to create something that looks, feels, and drives like what could have been built in the car’s heyday.
As attractive as the older respray metallic Pacific Blue paint is, it wasn’t the looks of this S30 that caught my attention the first time I came across it—it was the sound that lured me in. You see, I’ve had many friends over the years that drove Datsuns. So, I know what a stock L28 sounds like and this whirling-burbling-swooshing noise machine does not sound like a stock 240Z.
It was obviously turbocharged. “Let me guess,” I said to myself, “Another RB-something-swap from Godzilla?” To my surprise, not only does Daniel’s ’73 Z retain a SOHC L28 straight-six but it also has one of the tidiest engine compartments I’ve seen in a boosted Fairlady. If you’re unfamiliar, the majority of bays that house snail-fed engines have excessive plumbing, fittings, and wiring—basically, a total shitshow, as if your typical naturally aspirated engine swap wasn’t messy enough.
Yet, as you can see, Goodman has done an exceptional job keeping things neat and orderly under the long reverse hinged hood. One of the reasons for the transplant’s cleanliness was the L28ET powertrain selected, which was sourced from a 1981 Datsun 280ZX Turbo. Keeping the swap within the Z family made for an easier install with a healthy bump in power while ensuring everything fit snug without issue.
Daniel didn’t want to go overboard so the stock T3 turbocharger was left in place but to help throttle response and easy breathing an NA L28 intake manifold was fitted to help inhalation while a 2.5-inch downpipe to a full 3-inch straight through exhaust expels gases. Apart from ARP headstuds, the internals remain stock but with the bolt-on go-fast-goodies ticking on a 300ZX ECU, Daniel’s derriere dyno estimates it’s making around ~210 horsepower and ~280 pound feet of torque—quite a punch up from the factory figures.
Not to have an engine outrun the chassis, Daniel upgraded the suspension with a Ground Control coilover Tokico Illumina shock combo in addition to front adjustable camber plates, polyurethane bushings, and rebuilt calipers that clamp Stop Tech rotors with aggressive Hawk HPS pads. Of course the narrow tires originally fitted would be strenuously hunting for traction with the new power and dialed in suspension, so sticky 205/50 section Falken tread wrapped around wider alloys were equipped for increase in mechanical grip.
Speaking of wheels, the mesh rollers jeweling this Japanese Nostalgic Car are sure to make J-tin fans drool. Wheels can make or break a car so Goodman chose wisely. To keep the looks period correct, a square set of uber rare 15-by-7-inch Hayashi Racing Perrier 503s were sourced while he was working at HRE Wheels. To really make the wheels pop Daniel refinished the basket weave centers in-house at HRE, color matching them to the Z’s ivory interior.
To compliment the ride height adjustment and vintage wheels, the bumpers were removed and an MSA front chin spoiler and 432-model ducktail were added to complete the classic JNC aesthetic. Inside, a single floor mounted BRIDE Exas III bucket strapped with a Crow Enterprise five-point harness, MOMO Mod 08 deep-dish wheel, and custom roll bar further remind: this car was built to be driven.
So, what’s the end result of Goodman’s efforts? Well, Daniel was kind enough to hand over the keys and let me take it for a thorough flogging. I can’t say it better than him, “It boogies.” Throttle response is linear and instant thanks to a metal no-slack linkage system. The brakes have plenty of bite, which came in handy as I quickly found myself surging past [redacted] mph. The tight steering rack provides instant turn in response with good weight and the upgraded suspension keeps the rigid chassis flat without jarring occupants.
This car is faster than I expected but because of Daniel’s focus for an overall balanced drive, it’s not intimidating or unreasonably rough on tired California roadways. Simply put: the formula works. This 43-plus-year-old Nissan maintains its classic looks and feel but delivers modern performance without detracting from what made the 240Z so special in stock trim. The only gripe I have about this car is… it doesn’t reside in my garage.